Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Aum Cult Leader Death Sentence Upheld

When I was in Japan, from 1999 to 2002, there were big stand-up cardboard posters in the train stations showing images of Aum members still at large in connection with the sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway systems. I could read the Japanese syllabary katakana, used for foreign words, well enough to see the word "aum" written on the standups, but oddly, more conservative Japanese I talked to denied that that's what they were. The cult, at that time, had changed their name to Aleph and were striving to improve their public image, but no one wanted anything to do with them and there were articles in the English editions of Japanese newspapers about conflicts between Aleph and their neighbours. I thought it all fairly interesting. What DOES one do with people who do things as threatening and antisocial as mass murder? Though I'm surprised he hasn't been found innocent due to mental illness, Shoko Asahara, the Aum leader, is going to be hanged for his crime, and really, though I'm not particularly a fan of the death penalty, it doesn't seem like a bad idea at all.

(Trivially, in Japanese train stations, you'd often see posters advising men not to sexually molest schoolgirls on the train. Again, more conservative Japanese were shy on acknowledging that that's what the posters were saying, but the images were pretty unambiguous -- girl in school uniform grimacing, salaryman behind her grinning, his hands not visible)...

1 comment:

lisa_emily said...

Trivially is too light a word, anyway- that's kind of creepy. I guess one of the less tidy things about Japan.